I know – it’s hilarious really – the litany of calamities we’ve encountered since entering Greece seems too ludicrous to be real.
Today we had planned to take a bus the final 38 kms into Thessaloniki. We had originally been looking forward to walking into the city but lack of accommodation put that idea to bed.
We spent the better part of breakfast tapping away at our IPads trying to find an English bus schedule for busses into the city. Giving up we want to the reception desk and asked the woman there for help. She told us a schedule would be of no help as there is a bus strike. Can you imagine the sinking feeling. “Why don’t you take the train?” She continued.
Why not indeed. She showed us a train stop in a small village about 6 kms south of where were were. Numerous trains – about one an hour! Happily we paid our bill and set off down the road. The train station was quite large and modern given the size of the village. It was in disrepair, facilities and signs covered in graffiti. Most of the benches were broken with seats missing. This country is just falling to ruins. For 2 euro we got the train into the heart of Thessaloniki. The train carriages were also covered with graffiti but clean and comfortable inside. The trip was pretty quick through quite industrial landscape with many abandoned factories and warehouses. The station is central so a few blocks of walking through busy streets and we were at our hotel.
This is the Olympia Hotel. Not the Olympic. Not the Olympus. There seem to be numerous hotels with similar names – a bit confusing especially in Greek, but we are at the right place. We’re paying way too much because there is some kind of exhibition going on here and the city is almost fully booked. We were expecting fancy slippers and robes and freebies in the fridge. No. This is about our smallest room to date and the bathroom is tiny – couldn’t be smaller and still have standing room. Speaking of small – the TV is the size of a lap top screen! But we have a balcony. And there is an included breakfast. That there is breakfast at all is novel, that it is included is bonus!
We’ve entertained ourselves so far by strolling around a flee market. The junk for sale is varied and so are the ethnicities in the throng. We wonder if we are seeing long time residents or a mix of recent refugees. Either way it is all colourful and diverse.
We spend tomorrow here then go south for amid trip vacation by the beach for four days. Then back here to re group and plan our continued adventure east towards the border with Turkey. We are without guide book from this point on. We have a GPS route though and have a good idea (we think) of where there is and is not accommodation. We will however be trying to call ahead to ensure no more surprises like the closed hotel last night.
I’m not sure of the cause or the effect here – but I am sure we are experiencing the Greek crises first hand. This is not a fully functional first world nation any longer. Greece appears to be on its knees. Going down or struggling to get back up? We can’t say that we understand what’s happening here but we seem to be experiencing some of the fall out!